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Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry


Editor’s Note: Kenneth Perry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, contracted polio in 1968 when only three years old. He has some use of his right leg but no use of his left leg, and he rides a wheelchair. When we say a person rides a wheelchair, most often, we mean that the wheelchair is a vehicle for mobility. But when Perry says he uses a wheelchair, that wheelchair becomes a defense tool or an attack tool, because Perry has a black belt in martial arts and teaches martial arts to people with disabilities. Below, we share his perspective of defense on wheels!

subdue-attacker

Martial Arts Teach Confidence

I was minding my own business one day, and a man came up to me with a knife. He pointed the knife at me and asked me for my money. I broke his arm that was holding the knife. I was in a bar one time down in the Florida Keys, and a drunk was in the bar. For some reason, he didn’t like me being in the same bar where he was and threw a punch at me. I blocked his punch and jabbed him in the groin. As he lay on the floor sobbing, I left the bar.

Often, I know that people in wheelchairs are targets for abuse for no other reason than that they use wheelchairs.

I also realize that criminals feel that people in wheelchairs are easy targets to rob. That’s why I wanted to learn self defense and martial arts. After I began to train, I decided that other people with disabilities didn’t need to have the same fears that I had before I learned American Kenpo Martial Arts. So, I became an instructor.

I didn’t start training in martial arts until I was 33 years old. I would’ve started much earlier than that if I could have found an instructor to teach me martial arts. Someone once asked me, “Why did you think you could do martial arts from a wheelchair?” My answer was and still is today, “I’ve always known I can do anything I want to do.” I went to many different martial arts instructors, but they weren’t willing to try to teach me. Finally, I found an instructor teaching a martial arts class at a rehab center. He was already of the mindset that, “Yes, people in wheelchairs can do martial arts.”

Wheelchair Karate Is For Women Too: See Video from 2014 European Championships:

The form of martial arts I studied is called “American Kenpo” and is an American form of martial arts that traces its history all the way back to a Shaolin temple in China. The godfather of American Kenpo was Ed Parker and is the same form of martial arts that David Lee Roth and Elvis Presley practiced. Kenpo is not about how hard you can hit or how flexible you need to be. Kenpo is a curve/linear motion, because sometimes you move in a circle, and sometimes you move in a straight line. By using those two movements together, you can create a lot of power and dynamic torque. Right now I’m a second degree black belt, and I’ll be testing for my third degree in April, 2016.

Initially, I got into martial arts, as you may guess, as a way to protect myself. The more I studied, and the more I learned the discipline of Kenpo, I drew great strength from the discipline that Kenpo taught. Also, I learned that I could do more things than other people ever thought I would be able to do. For instance, people were amazed that I could balance a tray of food, move my wheelchair and go anywhere I wanted to go all at the same time. Also practicing Kenpo strengthened my core. I could see all these factors were benefitting me physically, mentally and emotionally.

My instructor’s philosophy was and still is that, “to learn is to gain the ability to teach.”

I started teaching martial arts to people with disabilities, because I had read statistics that said 80 percent of women with disabilities had been abused, and many in the criminal element assumed that people with disabilities were easy targets for robbing and abusing. I wanted to alleviate these problems not only for myself but for others too.

Martial Arts Give People with Disabilities Tools to Use When Attacked

I teach a class at the Abington YMCA right outside of Philadelphia that’s free for people with disabilities. The course consists of learning total self defense. I teach how to break away from grabs, get out of holds and subdue attackers. I also teach that you’re not limited by the physical vessel you live in – your body. You’re only limited by what your brain tells you that you can do. I also teach that a person in a wheelchair can subdue any attacker very easily. One of the big advantages that a person in a wheelchair has is that he or she has a very low center of gravity. You can use your wheelchair to block, to trip and to throw good punches.

For someone to strike a person in a wheelchair, the attacker has to sacrifice some of his balance.

2Kenneth PerryAs soon as you understand that an attacker is off balance when he tries to harm a person in a wheelchair, then you can exploit that advantage that you have. A person can’t hit you if you’re in a wheelchair without overextending themselves. If you’re sitting in a wheelchair, an attacker has to punch down, and their punch is somewhat reduced in power, because they have to make up for the distance that your lap makes from them to you. This puts the attacker at a disadvantage.

One of my instructors said, “When someone is attacking you, apply perfect defense until you have enough time to deliver devastating offense.” One of the biggest advantages and one of the easiest punches you can make that has a devastating effect is to the lower body and primarily the groin area. But one of the easiest defenses is when a person is coming to me, either walking or running, and threatens me. I head straight for them, run into them with my chair, make them fall down and create severe pain in their shins.

As they’re starting to fall, their head is in a really good position for me to deliver blows with either punches or elbows. The last thing an attacker expects from a person in a wheelchair, when they’re going after that person, is for the person in the chair to attack them. If you have limited mobility and can get out of your chair and get behind it, you can use it as a shield.

Instead of considering your wheelchair only as a device to move around in, we teach people to think of their chairs as battering rams, shields and if need be, aggressive tools.

For the individuals who use crutches or canes, a big part of martial art teaches people how to use sticks (canes and crutches) to defend themselves or to stop an aggressor. If someone tries to hit you, and you use your crutch to block that strike, your crutch will hurt that person a whole lot more than the punch will hurt you.

Life Lessons Learned Through Martial Arts

Even though I’m a sensei – a teacher – I go to martial arts class three to four times per week to learn more, so that I can be a better teacher. I’m asked, “What are your goals for learning martial arts?” I’ve learned that my goals are different as I’ve grown older. Initially, when I was younger, my first goal was being able to conquer martial arts skills, because most people thought I couldn’t. But now, my goals are to one day be able to teach more people with disabilities what I’ve learned. Possibly, I’d like to write a book about how people with disabilities can learn to defend themselves using martial arts techniques, exercise more and learn more.

kenneth-perry

I’d also like for people with disabilities to learn the life lessons I’ve learned through martial arts training. I’d like to prove to people with disabilities that they:

  • can do more than they’ve ever thought they could do;
  • don’t really know how much potential they have to do many things that they’ve never dreamed possible;
  • can be shown how many barriers they can tear down if they continue to practice and not give up;
  • can be taught to understand what they’ve learned from martial arts and how to use those later in life; and
  • understand that all these life lessons are part of martial arts training.

Besides teaching at the Abington YMCA, I sometimes teach at the Moss Rehab Center, the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital and the Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.

fall-down-karateWheelchair Karate: Martial Arts Help People Get Stronger and Gain Mobility

My first experience with martial arts was when I found an instructor teaching American Kenpo at a rehab center. Today when one of the rehab centers wants to help one of their patients to get stronger and to gain mobility in a different way, the center will call me and ask me to work with and teach the martial arts techniques that I’ve learned to their patients. We can take martial arts moves and use them to help someone re-learn how to walk or how to walk better. We teach certain moves that help people be more comfortable in their wheelchairs. Martial arts offer more than the ability to protect yourself.

1Kenneth PerryWe had one student who had a traumatic brain injury, which led to spasticity on his left side. He also had balance issues and memory problems. He told me, “I’m not going to be able to learn defense techniques. I don’t have very good balance, and I’m not going to be able to extend my left arm.”

However, after two years of training with us, he was promoted from white belt to yellow belt. He gained 3-4 inches of mobility in his range of motion on his left arm, and he was able to learn multiple six or seven steps self defense techniques. So, learning Kenpo was very therapeutic for him. It also gave him a lot of self-confidence and helped him overcome the fear he had of going out into the public. He knew that he could take care of himself in any situation that might arise. There’s an old saying, “People who want to start trouble are no match for people who are ready for a troublemaker.”

Martial arts enables you to be ready for the people who want to start trouble with you.

Also, we teach quite a few ladies. The statistics I know say that 80 percent of ladies with disabilities are sexually attacked. When they go out into the world, they want to feel safe and know that they can handle any situation that may occur. I’ve been teaching martial arts for 20 years, and I’ve had several female students who have had boys try to impose their wills on them, and the ladies have smacked them and immediately have stopped that aggression.

To learn more about what I do, how I train, and how to begin to learn martial arts as a part of your therapy or rehab or to build self-confidence, you can email me at kenperus@yahoo.com. You can see some interesting martial arts techniques that I demonstrate on YouTube. See the video below.

About the Author:

John-E_-PhillipsFor the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at www.johninthewild.com.

 

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Where Do You Want to Go?

Have you always dreamt of seeing the Aurora Borealis in Alaska? Or ...

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TerrainHopper USA: Bringing Adventure and Freedom to People with Disabilities

Editor’s Note:  Born with osteogenesis imperfecta, Todd Lemay ...

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Breaking Down Broadcasting Barriers with Paul Amadeus Lane

Editor’s Note: Growing up in Long Beach, California, Paul Amadeus ...

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Zebreda Dunham Powers Through Challenges on the Pitch and in Life

Editor’s Note:  Born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, ...

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Adaptive Aerial Yoga Allows Wheelchair Users to Fly

  Editor’s Note: Texas native Sara Schaffer has been ...

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Sex, Love, and Disability:  Ben Duffy’s New Documentary Exposes It All

Filmmaker Ben Duffy and Ajani “AJ” Murray met while working on a ...

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Amputee Bob Clausen Says If You Want Something Bad Enough, You Will Do It

Editor’s Note:  Widower and Navy veteran Rober “Bob” ...

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The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant: A Life-Changing Experience

As the Ms. Wheelchair California Leadership Institute, formerly known ...

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Comfort Conversations: Support Systems Are Key After a Life-Altering Tragedy

Having key support systems after a life-altering injury is crucial. ...

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Sheri Melander-Smith on Living Your Best Life

Editor’s Note:  Sheri Melander-Smith was born with a vascular ...

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5 Extreme Activities to Add to Your Bucket List

Have you already tried all of the typical adaptive sports available ...

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Reflections and Lessons Learned in 2017

We hope your 2017 was as enlightening and empowering as ours was here ...

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Living with MS: One Family’s Solution to Enjoying Life Events Again

Dave was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and for the first ...

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4 Tips to Help Teach Your Child About Self-Catheterization

At a certain age, kids will be the first to tell you that they want ...

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Winter Weather Preparedness Tips for Wheelchair Users

Are you dreading this winter season? Dealing with slushy, icy, snowy, ...

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Making Adaptive Climbing More Accessible with Arthur Torrey

Editor’s Note: When a tree-cutting accident in 2010 led to broken ...

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Barbara Cramer – 75 Years of Defying Stereotypes

Editor’s Note:  An earlier version of this post may have left the ...

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Serving the Spina Bifida Community with the SBAGNE

I serve as the executive director of the SBAGNE. One of my primary ...

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Comfort Medical is Helping People to Achieve a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

If you’re an avid Wheel:Life reader, you may remember that we ...

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Advocating for Disability Rights with Stephanie Woodward and CDR

Editor’s Note: During a summer internship at the Center for ...

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Building Strength and Confidence with Handi Capable Fitness

Editor’s Note: A botched hernia operation during infancy left James ...

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Comfort Medical Sponsors Freedom Concepts to Help You Win An Adaptive Bike

Have you always dreamt of gliding down the street with the wind in ...

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Experience It All At the Abilities Expo!

Days are becoming shorter, nights longer, and the holiday season is ...

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ParaSportsLive: Bringing Adaptive Sports Coverage to the World

Editor’s Note:  When wheelchair user Tony Jackson’s original ...

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Introducing the New Cure Ultra Coude Intermittent Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra® Coude ...

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Get Ready for Rolling With Me’s Each By Name Conference

Wheel:Life, Comfort Medical, and Rolling With Me is excited to ...

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Smooth Sailing with David Gaston

Editor’s Note:  A Texas coast native, David Gaston has been in and ...

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Gain Traction This Fall with National Ramp

Summer is officially over and dreary winter weather is on its way. ...

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Wheelchair Dancers Organization Says Everybody Can Dance!

When life-long dancer Beverly Weurding was diagnosed with limb-girdle ...

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Pursuing Health and Happiness with Malaise Wheelchair Fitness

Editor’s Note: Justin Malaise grew up in small-town Wisconsin as a ...

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Former Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Continues to be a Voice for the Community

Editor’s Note: Born with spina bifida, Kim Brown has been a ...

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Dare to Discover the World of Accessible Travel With Handiscover

Editor’s Note: Sebastien Archambeaud has always loved traveling, so ...

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Made for Kids! The Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter + Free Backpack Program

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them ...

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Wheeling, Driving, Bowling, Preaching, Parenting…Johnny Hudson Does It All Hands-free!

Editor’s Note: Johnny Hudson was born in 1977 with unforeseen ...

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.
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The Abilities Expo is Coming To Boston!

Boston awaits with open arms. This September 8–10, head over to the ...

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Comfort Conversations: Change Starts with You – Becoming an Advocate

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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WheelchairTravel.org: Blazing the Trail Towards an Accessible World  

Editor’s Note: After sustaining severe burns during a car accident ...

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The Artfully Gifted Foundation – Serving Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: The Artfully Gifted Foundation (a non-profit) was ...

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How the SCRS-IL Can Help You Live Independently

Editor’s Note: When triple degree holder Jose Gonzalez returned ...

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Peter Arballo Never Gave Up on Himself — Neither Should You

Editor’s Note: Peter Arballo was born in Southern California to ...

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Full Speed Ahead with Endurance Racer Michael Johnson

Editor’s Note: Michael Johnson of Lansing, Michigan, started racing ...

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The Extraordinary Life of Triple Amputee Monica Vickers

Editor’s Note: Monica Vickers was born in 1954 missing both legs ...

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Rick Hayden Rolls on Capitol Hill for Your Rights

When Rick Hayden visited the US Capitol last week, he went with your ...

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Gear Up for Abilities Expo Chicago

Calling all Midwesterners — Abilities Expo is coming to Chicago! As ...

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Run, Jump, and Throw Stuff with Angel City Sports

Editor’s Note: Clayton Frech is the CEO and founder of Los ...

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Sled Hockey with Coach Koz

Editor’s Note: Sled hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is almost ...

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL
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Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL

Editor’s Note: Mary Marshall, founder of STYLEDWEL, created ...

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Following Your Inner Guidance with Kristina Rhoades and How National Ramp is Helping Her Do It

Editor’s Note: Kristina Rhoades is a mom, wife, speaker, writer, ...

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Comfort Conversations: Finding Encouragement Through Peer Support Groups

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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Allen Beauchamp on Life, Love and Hockey

My name is Allen Beauchamp, and I’m 43 years old. I live in a ...

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Yoocan Get Empowered!

Editor’s Note: Inspired by a family member with disabilities, Moshe ...

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Introducing the Cure Ultra: Ready to Use Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra™ Intermittent ...

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Refuel and Rejuvenate At Abilities Expo New York Metro

East coasters, or anyone within striking distance, gear up for ...

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Criptaedo: Breaking Boards and Barriers

Editor’s note: Paul Brailer, aka Criptaedo, was born with spina ...

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Rolling Forward with Amputee Advocate Stella Sieber

I’m currently 63 years old and live in Durham, North Carolina. ...

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Stroke by Stroke: Moving Forward with Mallory Weggemann

Editor’s Note: At 18 years old, Mallory Weggemann walked into the ...

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Comfort Conversations: Finding Your New Normal After a Spinal Cord Injury

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

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Glenn Moscoso: Wheelchair Daddy

Editor’s note:  Glenn Moscoso is a husband and father living with ...

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Avoiding Slippery Slopes with Garth Walker and National Ramp

Editor’s Note: After selling his prior business, Garth Walker went ...

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The National Sports Center for the Disabled: Finding Self-Confidence through Personal Challenge

Editor’s Note: The National Sports Center for the Disabled, founded ...

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Wheeling around the World with Susie Twydell

Editor’s Note: Based in England, Susie Twydell, an avid traveler ...

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Amplitude Media Group: Closing the Information Gap

Wheel:Life is thrilled to announce their newest community partner, ...

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Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  

Editor’s Note: Wilderness on Wheels (WOW) is a foundation and a ...

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Comfort Conversations: Events, Free Packs, and More with James “Woody” Beckham

Editor’s Note: The Woody Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ...

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Jenn Sexton Shares Her Secret for Independence: An Extra Long Cure Catheter

Jenn Sexton was five weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Thomas, ...

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Glen Schlotterbeck: Reinvent Yourself!

Editors note: As a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Glen ...

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Educate, Energize, and Enlighten at Abilities Expo Los Angeles

The Abilities Expo is back in Los Angeles and gearing up to show you ...

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Juan Sebastian Betancourt: Changing the Way Businesses Serve People with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: Juan Betancourt is on a path to change the world for ...

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AccessibleIndonesia: Making Travel Accessible in a Non-Accessible Country

Editor’s note: Kerstin Beise, a German physiotherapist, who also ...

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A Lesson on Living Life to the Fullest with Hydred Makabali

Editor’s note: Hydred Makabali, born and raised in England and now ...

Up/Down Team Champions (Top L to R) Shane Hayden, Harold Collins (Seated L to R) Gary Bowling, Kenneth Hill, and Don Law
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Knocking Down The Pins of Life with Wheelchair Bowling Champion Kenneth Hill

Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kenneth Hill from Plainfield, ...

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Take Your Wings and Fly with Denise Horn

Editor’s Note: Fifty-six-year-old Denise Horn of Janesville, ...

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Ashley Hutson Wilson Beat a Small Chance of Survival to Live a Full Life

Editor’s Note: Thirty-one year old Ashley Hutson Wilson from Kyle, ...

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Jam with Mel Bergman: Creator of Wheely Guitars

Editor’s Note: Mel Bergman of Camarillo, California, is the ...

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Gary “Tiger” Balletto: Champion Prize Fighter Who Rolls with the Punches

Editor’s Note: You can capture a ferocious wild tiger and put him ...

9 Robby Heisner
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Meet Robby Heisner: Creative Entrepreneur on Wheels

Editor’s Note: Robby Heisner of Smyrna, Georgia ...

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The National Rifle Association’s Adaptive Shooting Program with Dr. Joseph Logar

Dr. Joseph Logar Editor’s Note: Dr. Joseph Logar has his doctorate ...

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The Rollettes Take On an E.P.I.C. Project to Empower Others

Editor’s Note: Chances are, you’ve seen these ladies ...

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Speak Up Now to Save Your Wheelchair: Fight Medicare Cuts

Your window is narrowing to preserve access to mobility equipment – ...

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Go Further Together with GRIT: Stories of Community Support

Our friends at GRIT, the makers of the revolutionary Freedom Chair, ...

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Paralyzed Veteran’s Mom Awarded Dream Trip by ElDorado Mobility

Editor’s Note: Serving our country as a military service member is ...

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Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Perry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ...

5 Tom Cannalonga
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Ditch Your Chair to Sit-Ski the Slopes with Tom Cannalonga 

Editor’s Note: Fifty-two-year-old Tom Cannalonga lives in Edison, ...

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Welcome to Wheel:Life

We are so glad you’re here! Wheel:Life is a global initiative ...

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